Why Is Mountain Biking Better Than Running?

You just heard from a friend that they started mountain biking, and you should do it too. Lovely! But why so? Whatever you can accomplish with mountain biking, can’t you do the same with running?

Well, as it turns out, that’s not always the case. While your goals may be different, mountain biking is better than running in almost every aspect. It burns more calories with half the exhaustion. It’s great for your bones and shapes your muscles more.

So, why is mountain biking better than running? Here are some of the reasons that you should switch to biking today.

biking better than running

Is Mountain Biking Better than Running?

Many people are making the switch from routine running over to mountain biking. Why is mountain biking better than running? Here’s the answer to all your queries.

  • It burns more calories. Mountain biking, in general, burns more calories than running. This depends on how much you work out and how intense each workout is. But mountain biking works up more of your leg muscles and helps you lose weight faster.
  • Better views. Running around a park for half an hour or so is not the most pleasant of tasks. It can get mundane quickly. Mountain biking, on the other hand, is a lot more thrilling and fun riding through trails.
  • Better for the bones. Mountain biking puts light stress on your joints, thereby strengthening them. This allows your bones and joints to grow stronger while keeping strain at a bare minimum.
  • Suitable for strength training. While running works your upper body and your lower body, mountain biking works your lower body. But it enhances more of the muscles. When biking, your muscles contract more, giving the illusion that there’s more muscle mass.

Mountain Biking Vs. Running: Burning Calories

biking is better than running

This is the biggest question on everyone’s mind, so we thought to get it out of the way early. Does mountain biking burn more calories than running?

You see, the number of calories burnt depends not just on the type of exercise, but how vigorously you do it and for how long. But when we control for the other factors, the speed also seems to pose a problem.

Mountain biking for longer periods (more than 30 minutes) leads to more exhaustion. This not only restricts your mountain biking time to 30 minutes but may also hinder calorie burning. When you cycle faster, your muscles are not moving as much as your heart is beating. This results in lesser calories burnt with double the exhaustion.

However, at a slower pace, running may not be the right choice. If you run slower, your body will get more exhausted than mountain biking at the same pace.

So, the lines between the two are somewhat blurred. However, for anyone seeking weight loss, it’s suggesting to combine a bit of both. Running will get your blood pumping, while mountain biking will provide strength and prevent you from plateauing.

Plateauing is when your body becomes used to the exercise routine, and your strength or weight loss training comes to a halt. If you want to see results, it’s recommended to switch between mountain biking and running.

Mountain Biking Vs. Running: Physical Strain

Mountain biking is better than running

When it comes to physical training, what are the benefits of mountain biking?

Well, for starters, mountain biking is less weary since the bike is doing half the work for you. So, it’s no surprise that many people are under the impression that running adds more physical strain to the body.

And that’s true for the most part. Running requires a lot of your muscles, including your hip and shoulder muscles. Cycling may or may not incorporate these things. Running also engages more joints and cartilages than biking.

But this, while good news for athletes, is not so good for those who suffer from joint pain. For this purpose, cycling is often seen as a much less straining task. And it’s not just for those who have any physiological issues. Even people who get tired while running should try mountain biking.

Keep in mind, however, that physical strain is not required for burning calories. It’s only suitable for shaping up your muscles and fixing pain in your body. If you want to lose weight, you can do some slow-paced running or mountain biking.

Running for Bone Health

Running works your joints and cartilages and gets your blood pumping. As such, it’s a great way to keep your bones in good shape. This is following Wolff’s Law, which relates bones to the stress applied to them.

In simpler terms, the more you work out your bones and joints, the stronger they will get. So, if you want to avoid arthritis in your later days, running is a great choice.

However, running is only suited to prevent joint pain and other disorders of the bones. If you already have such disorders and want to reduce pain and difficulty, you should go mountain biking. Running will put too much stress on your body and may even enhance your joint pain. On the other hand, mountain biking will put less stress on your joints and is recommended by many physicians.

Mountain Biking for Strength

Biking Vs Running

If you’re someone who wants to develop strength in your muscles but wants to avoid exhaustive sessions at the gym, then try mountain biking.

In this regard, mountain biking and running are pretty similar. They work similar muscles, and you can see some substantial results with both. However, mountain biking will work your muscles far more than running will in the greater scheme of things.

This is because, when mountain biking, your muscles are performing concentric contractions. It means they get shorter and shorter with each pull, giving the illusion that they’re bulkier. This will develop mass in your legs and save you a hefty gym fee.

For anyone who wants to work their upper body, however, they should consider running. Running works the upper body far more than mountain biking does. When you run, your elbows move back and forth, resulting in more mass in your shoulders and arms.

But don’t just rely on mountain biking and running for strength. These are only good for working out your legs and your upper body. If you want a fully lean figure like some athletes to have, you’ll have to join the gym.

Equipment and Price

IBIS Mountain Bike

We looked at the various health benefits of mountain biking Vs running. But what about the financial aspects? For one thing, you’ll need a lot more equipment for biking than for running.

It turns out, the high equipment price and low reliability is the main reason why people deter from mountain bikes.

A new entry-level mountain bike like the Devinci Kobain SLX will cost you no less than $1500. And the more advanced ones like the Pivot Trail 429 Enduro Carbon can cost you as much as $10,000. And that’s just the initial cost. You have to factor in maintenance, gear, and a load of other costs. And those will increase when your looking to upgrade.

Plus, mountain bikes will need repairs. If you’re lucky enough to keep your bike in great condition you can avoid additional costs.

Running, on the other hand, is practically free. Sure, you may end up spending on some accessories such as headbands, sweatbands, smartwatches, and even special running shoes. But all of that won’t cost you as much as an entry-level mountain bike.


Another reason why many people opt for running over mountain biking is the sheer convenience of it. Picture this: you work your regular 9 to 5 and cannot factor in a daily exercise routine. If you’re like most of us, you probably didn’t have to picture that. It’s more or less your reality.

Running is simple and easy. You can fit it anywhere in your exercise routine. And if you can’t find the time to run outdoors, you can use treadmills and air-walkers in your gym.

Mountain biking, on the other hand, most definitely requires special terrain. This means you have to find said terrain close-by and that you have to ride over there every day. This will cut down on your exercise time, considering you have other exercises to do too.

Moreover, running can be done anywhere you are. For mountain biking, you’ll need to be in a particular setting. Some bikes are made for use on roads, so you must remember not to veer off-road. And those that are made for mountaineering must be used on a special mountain biking trail. Most trails are free to ride, but they may be far from your place.

Your legs, on the other hand, can adapt to every situation. There’s no off-road or on-road here. You’re free to go where you want. A mountain bike heavily restricts your exercise regime.


Mountain Biking better than running

Before you begin any new hobby or sport, it’s always good to have your goals thought out. Are you doing this to lose weight, win a competition, commuting, gaining strength, or for fun? If you answered that question with the last option, then congratulations: you’re not alone.

Most people who take up mountain biking do so despite all the other viable commuting and exercising options. And the reason is clear: it’s fun. No one wants to run for half an hour and get sweaty, only to be met with the same old mundane urban view.

While you’ll have to ride up to the trail, the view after that is spectacular. Mountain biking is a fun and lively activity that gets you on your edge. Every turn reveals a new scene, and every climb gets you closer to your destination. You can’t get that kind of thrill with running for the most part.

And it’s not just the beauty of solo biking. There’s an entire mountain bike community that you can indulge in. Having a biking partner saves the task from becoming mundane.


Why is mountain biking better than running? Well, now you know the answer to that. Mountain biking, while not inexpensive, gets your muscles working for longer. It’s a great way to burn calories and strengthening your body.

And that’s not all.

Lots of physicians and physiotherapists recommend mountain biking for those with joint issues. It strengthens your joints and bones without overbearing them.

However, running is a good choice if you don’t want to deal with mountain biking’s high maintenance demands.

So, have you thought of it yet? Will you be taking up running or mountain biking? The choice is yours.

Below is a Pinterest friendly photo… so you can pin it to your Mountain Bike Board!